The term Christian education is redundant. In a very real and substantial sense it is repetitious to call education Christian. While preparing for a new school year, this year, the idea of what education truly is came home very clearly. As is likely the case for you, I probably heard it before, but the clarity of the cognitive bell in my cranium this time was unforgettable. Education, simply stated, is nothing more than learning about God's creation and His providence.
In creation, or the study thereof, we learn about order and existence. Math is "orderly" because God is orderly. Should God fail to exist, the certainty of two plus two equalling four would no longer be with us. The questions left unaddressed in the technique and content found in most schoolsDoes God exist? And, if so, what is He like?is the necessary foundation for any education. What good is served if we learn how to build a house in every detail except the foundation. Our neighborhoods are full of people trying to purchase the apartment above the empty lot.
More directly, we understand chemistry, physics, earth science, and biology as the study of what God made and the order by which it now exists. Can you imagine learning the periodic table one year and finding that it changed the next year? It should be understood that the kind of change spoken of above is not change due to new discoveries that might shed light on our error in perception (remember Newton's fight to break culture and the church of its geocentric belief), nor is it change due to additional discoveries (several heavy elements have been added to the periodic table in our lifetime). But rather, the change imagined is the kind that permits something to be qualitatively different today than yesterday. Sadly, many today believe there are no absolutesChristians included. You've likely contemplated the chaotic destination of that train. Although creation is a finished work, our understanding of it is not. Avoiding extra- biblical dogmatism is wise. And knowing the clear teaching of Scripture will assist us in keeping the Newtonic egg off our faces. Knowing Scripture also prepares us to hold our ground. What an exciting time to be alive as new technology enables us to discover new information that assists us in our understanding of God's creation.
History, and the reason one event precipitated from another, is God's providence at work. The development of language, spoken and written, a significant element in education, is at least partly the work of God's providence. (A case could be made that language is part of creation rather than providence but that is beyond both the scope of this article and the abilities of the author.) As we learn about and understand the work of providence we gain insights as to why things are the way they are now. In fact, by God's grace, we may accurately forecast certain future events. As a reader of this publication you likely foresee great trouble on the horizon caused by current and past failures surrounding the education of children. This ability to foresee the future is not from some supernatural gift, but rather both an understanding of God's nature and character through His Word and by observation as to how He has led His creation to this point. He is orderly and orderliness, by definition, has a very predictable quality.
Years ago theology was understood to be the "Queen of the Sciences," the idea that all things must be understood in light of our study of the nature and character of God. Then educators recognized that only "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). God is sovereign over allcreation and daily life. With a right understanding of the Creator/Sustainor's role in that which we learn we can then, and only then, fully comprehend the data we receive and it's relationship to other data thus enhancing our ability to appreciate what we have learned and communicate our convictions to those with ears to hear.
I am sorry I ever imagined education in an environment that didn't recognize the sovereignty of God. I am even sorrier that many Christians continue to raise their children with little thought for what their precious gifts from God hear and learn from Mrs. Secular, six hours a day for 180 day a year.
Obviously we can learn a lot from the educational process without the mention of God's Name. Common Grace is experienced by all. But what have we learned. Math teaches us that order exists and is dependable, Physics proves that out. But why is there order? And how is it that something came from nothing at the beginning and now we say that cannot happen?
If Mrs. Secular had been there to answer my oldest son's question, then four years oldDaddy, how did God make Himself?How would she have responded? Would she have declined on the basis of separation of Church and state? Would she have told him that he'd have to ask his parents? Or, maybe she would have summoned up all her recent masters program educational learning and responded, How do you think He made Himself?
One thing's for sure. If we don't understand that education must include God foundationally, we cannot possibly be educating thoroughly and completely. Unfortunately, our neighbors don't see it that way, so for now we better bite our tongue and tell them that the kids are attending a Christian school where they are getting a Christian education. But maybe, just maybe, the time will come when we can say they're getting a complete education or a properly- grounded education and our neighbors will understand.
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